RETIREMENT AGE OF JUDGES - SHOULD WE INCREASE?





1. PARLIAMENTARY STANDING COMMITTEE - RECOMMENDATION - that raising the retirement age of judges would help retain the existing judges, which in turn would help in reducing both vacancy and pendency of cases in short run

2. LAW MINISTRY - RESPONSE : there was no proposal as of now to increase the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 65 to 67 and of High Court judges from 62 to 65.

3. REASONING : The appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and High Courts is a continuous and collaborative process of the Judiciary and Executive.

  • “While every effort is made to fill vacancies expeditiously, vacancies keep on arising on account of retirement, resignation or elevation of judges and increase in judge strength,” the Ministry said.

  • As of now, out of a total approved strength of 1,079 judges in 24 High Courts across the country, only 695 posts are filled.

IN WESTERN COUNTRIES : 70 is average retirement age in most Western liberal democracies.

  • SC of US & Constitutional courts - Austria and Greece = Appoinment for Life.

  • Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Australia = 70 years.

  • Judges in Canada and Germany retire at 75 and 68, respectively.

REASONING :

  1. The judge-population ratio in India is among the lowest in the world at 19.66 judges per million (10 lakh) people as of today. In 2016, the U.K. had 51 judges per million people, the U.S. had 107, Australia had 41, and Canada had 75.

  2. As the Indian economy grows, the ratio of litigation to population will increase exponentially. Advanced economies such as Australia, Canada, France, the U.S., the U.K., and Japan have much higher litigation-to- population ratios.

4. ADVANTAGES OF INCREASING THE AGE OF JUDGES :

1. Will ensure the continuance of talented judges with their expertise experience.

2. Without removing existing judges new ones can be appointed.

3. Will help in resolving the cases backlogged.

4. Will help against impending surge in commercial litigation.

5. Post-retirement assignments will be unattractive & as a result, this would strengthen the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, both of which are crucial to sustain democracy

5. CONCLUSION : We are losing judges who are trained by time and experience well before their prime. If legislations provide for retired High Court and Supreme Court judges to man tribunals till the age of 70, there is no reason why these judges should be retired so early.

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